After a saga lasting nearly five years, Boris Johnson has resolved to grant planning permission for the construction of a 41-storey tower on the site of Eileen House in Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle.
Because of a well-orchestrated campaign mounted by the adjacent Ministry of Sound nightclub, the mixed-use scheme by Oakmayne has become one of the most controversial in recent years.
Nearly 50,000 people signed a petition objecting to the plans on the grounds that the construction of new homes so close to the nightclub would put the world-famous venue's 24-hour licence in jeopardy because of the potential for noise complaints.
The proposals include 329 new homes as well as shops, offices and public realm in a scheme designed by local architects Allies and Morrison.
First submitted to Southwark Council in early 2009, the planning application was rejected by councillors in October 2011. Weeks later, Mayor of London Boris Johnson decided to exercise his power to 'take over' the planning application and make himself the final decision-maker.
After numerous false starts the Mayor finally opened a public hearing on the case last month, but decided to adjourn it for several weeks to allow the Ministry of Sound and Oakmayne to negotiate a compromise.
The hearing reconvened at City Hall on Thursday afternoon and heard from Alexandra Reitman, senior planner at the Greater London Authority, that the developer and the nightclub had reached agreement on a number of proposed conditions to any planning permission to ensure that noise mitigation measures are maintained in perpetuity.
The parties also agreed that the section 106 legal agreement will contain a number of clauses to address noise concerns. These include a provision that the lease of each flat will include specific reference to the location of the Ministry of Sound, as well as measures restricting future alterations to the building which could affect noise levels experienced by residents.
Oakmayne and the Ministry of Sound have also agreed in principle to sign a deed of easement which will prevent future residents from submitting noise nuisance claims.
Lohan Presencer – chief executive of Ministry of Sound – thanked the Mayor for giving the parties the chance to hold further talks and providing the impetus for them to reach agreement.
The Mayor said he welcomed the deal reached by the developer and the principal objector and said that he was satisfied that the measures would enable the new homes to coexist with the Ministry of Sound which he described as a "great London cultural landmark".
A representative of Oakmayne told the hearing that demolition of the existing Eileen House will begin early next year with the redevelopment scheduled for completion in 2017.
After the hearing, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "This scheme will deliver much-needed housing in Elephant & Castle while ensuring that the Ministry of Sound, one of London's leading cultural and musical icons, can continue to thrive for years to come.
"The Ministry of Sound makes a huge contribution to the area's thriving night time economy. We want the club to be at the heart of our plans to transform the area into a thriving town centre which is attractive to live, work and play, particularly for young people and students.
"I have fully considered the concerns raised by the club, and having visited the site myself believe that, on balance, the amendments to the original plans should allow residents of the new development to coexist with visitors to the club."
The Eileen House scheme was the seventh planning application to be decided by the Mayor using his power to 'take over' decision-making powers from borough councils when schemes are deemed to have strategic implications for the capital. Mr Johnson has given the go-ahead to all seven schemes.